Want to keep and bear arms in New York State? Unless you actually live or work in the Empire State, you’re out of luck. New York not only doesn’t recognize any state’s concealed carry licenses outside of its own, but most non-residents have no way of applying for or receiving a permit of their own. No other constitutionally protected right stops at the state line, but according to lawmakers and law enforcement in New York, once you cross over into their territory your right to keep and bear arms becomes null and void.
If that seems like an egregious violation of our Second Amendment rights you’re not alone. Several non-residents have now filed a lawsuit in federal court taking on this blatant infringement, with the help of Gun Owners of America.
GOA and GOF are representing several individual plaintiffs who reside in neighboring states and hold their own state’s license to carry concealed weapons. TV Host and Second Amendment Advocate Carl Higbie is one of the individual plaintiffs.
Under current New York law, only New York residents may apply for and obtain permits to carry concealed weapons, and the state does not grant any form of reciprocity for individuals who hold a similar permit from another state.
As a result, those who hold out of state driver’s licenses may drive in New York, but the exercising of one’s constitutional right to bear arms in New York State is wholly inaccessibly to the 94% of Americans who are not state residents. New York is the only known state where nonresidents are not allowed to exercise their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
California also doesn’t have reciprocity with any other state, nor does it have a process by which non-residents can apply for a permit of their own. That’s actually one of the quirks of the state’s concealed carry regime that’s being challenged in California Rifle & Pistol Association v. Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, which features a Florida resident and PhD candidate who regularly travels to the state but is unable to lawfully carry once he’s on the ground. But the attorneys representing Higbie and the other plaintiffs point out that California at least allows non-residents to transport firearms within its borders, which is a right not recognized in New York law.
New York also has another provision that’s even more onerous that any found in California, however. As we discussed on today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co with attorney Amy Bellantoni, permits issued in most New York counties aren’t valid in New York City. Connecticut residents like Carl Higbie are unable to lawfully carry a firearm in Manhattan, but residents of Buffalo, Albany, and other upstate cities would face the same felony charge even if they have a valid NYS permit.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys are challenging New York’s complete refusal to allow nonresident individuals on two grounds; arguing that the inability to apply for a permit to possess or carry firearms in public for self-defense violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments, along with the privileges and immunities of state citizenship by allowing New Yorkers to exercise enumerated rights that are denied to (but are held by) all other Americans as well as their contention that the state’s refusal to honor the permit of any other state is “plainly unconstitutional under Bruen, and which violates the constitutional requirement that New York grant Full Faith and Credit to the concealed carry permits issued by other states.”
That last argument is extremely important, because it’s completely unreasonable to demand that residents in other states have to pass New York’s training mandate before they can carry there. It would be impossible for most Americans to do so, because that training isn’t going to be provided outside of New York. Firearm instructors in Texas or Oregon aren’t going to teach New York carry courses because the demand would be so low, but that shouldn’t preclude lawful Oregonians or Texans who possess a carry license from being able to bear arms if and when they visit the state. The obvious answer is for the state of New York to recognize out-of-state permits just like they recognize out-of-state driver’s licenses, rather than making non-residents go through the impossible process of applying for a New York permit.
This case, along with CRPA v. LASD, has the potential to upend one of the most appalling carry restrictions that remain in effect despite the Bruen decision, and I’m delighted to see GOA work with Higbie and other plaintiffs to rectify this patent violation of the Second Amendment. No individual right stops at the border of the state where you live, and that holds just as true for your right to keep and bear arms as it does your freedom of speech, your right to be secure in your person or property, and your right to due process. New York couldn’t get away with violating those rights of non-residents, and the state shouldn’t be able to infringe on your Second Amendment rights either.